07.09.07 - ICTR/WEEKLY SUMMARY - CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN FEBRUARY IN THE TRIAL OF FORMER PREFECT

  Arusha, 7 September 2007 (FH) - The closing arguments were scheduled for 14 and 15 February in the trial of Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, prefect of Kigali in 1994, who called his last witness this week.
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At the beginning of the week a French historian, Bernard Lugan, explained that the prefect did not have any power to restore order in the capital. He, on the other hand, blamed the head of the United Nations mission, General Romeo Dallaire, who, according to him, showed "pusillanimity" in general and "cowardice" at the time of the killing of the ten Belgian peacekeepers.
 
Renzaho rested his case Thursday with the testimony of the protected witness TOA, the 27th witness for the defence in this trial for genocide and crimes against humanity which opened on 8 January. TOA is a Tutsi survivor of the massacres at Holy Family church, for which Renzaho is accused. According to him, the former prefect does not have any responsibility in the massacres which were committed on this site as well as for alleged rapes, of which he was not a witness to and that he did not hear about.
 
Renzaho is accused of complicity in the rapes, with Abbot Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, priest of the Holy Family parish during the genocide.
 
Indicted by the ICTR, Munyeshyaka was arrested in France Wednesday at the same time as the former prefect of Gikongoro (south-western Rwanda), Laurent Bucyibaruta.
 
It is the second time that the two men are arrested at the request of the ICTR. They had been held from 20 July to 1 August, before being released by the Court of Appeal of Paris.
 
The court had estimated that their detention contravened French law, in particular the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence.
 
The ICTR had required that they be held while waiting for a decision of a chamber designated to rule on the possible transfer of their cases to French courts.
 
Next Wednesday, the case will again be put before the investigative chamber of the Court of Appeal of Paris, this time for an extradition request to the ICTR.
 
The ICTR also continued this week proceedings in three other trials: the Butare group concerning six accused, former magistrate Siméon Nshamihigo and Abbot Emmanuel Rukundo.
 
The three trials are hearing testimony from defence witnesses. The Nshamihigo and Rukundo trials are the most advanced. The first accused will call his last witness on 21 September, the second on 5 October. As for Butare, this trial remains faithful to its reputation. After four weeks of hearings, the second witness for Kanyabashi has not yet finished.
 
Since its creation in November 1994, the ICTR has already tried 33 persons. 29 accused are currently on trial, while 6 others are still held in Arusha while awaiting trial. 16 persons are currently at large

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